Home Senior School Welcome Curriculum Subjects Mandarin


千里之行,始于足下 (qiān lǐ zhī xíng, shǐ yú zú xià)

A thousand mile journey is started by taking the first step (Laozi, Chinese philosopher, approx. 571-531BC)

Mandarin Chinese has been a long-standing part of the Westholme curriculum with outstanding results at both GCSE and A Level. Currently, pupils have the opportunity to study Mandarin in Year 7 & 8 as a co-curricular subject. In Year 9, they can choose Mandarin as a GCSE option.

At Westholme, we aim to prepare our students to be world citizens. China has one of the oldest civilisations in the world, it is also one of the fastest growing economies in the last two decades. It is shaping entertainment, business and even politics around the world. We believe studying Mandarin not only enriches our students’ learning experiences; it is also an investment for their future.

In Key Stage 3

Pupils enter the world of this ancient yet modern language by getting to grips with the linguistic peculiarities of the language that make it so exciting to learn. These include the structure of Chinese characters, the phonetic alphabet pīn yīn, and the four tones of Mandarin. Building on from these understandings, pupils will gradually develop the four key skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing. These skills are introduced through the topics of:

• Introducing Selves and Others
• Food, Drink and Healthy Eating
• Free time and Hobbies
• School and Future
• Holidays

We use ‘Jìn bù 1 & Jìn bù 2’ to support pupils in class and at home.

In Years 10 and 11 (GCSE AQA)

The GCSE course is designed to encourage learners to develop their ability and ambition to communicate with fellow speakers of Mandarin. The study of Mandarin should also broaden their horizons and encourage them to step beyond familiar cultural boundaries and develop new ways of seeing the world.

At GCSE pupils build upon all Key Stage 3 topics and are introduced to new ones. The topics are:

• Identity and Culture (family & friends/technology/free-time activities/Chinese Customs and Festivals)
• Local, National, International and Global areas of Interests (home, town, neighbourhood and region, social issues, global issues, travel and tourism)
• Current and Future study and Employment (my studies/life at school/education post-16/jobs, career choices and ambitions)

Pupils will be assessed on all four skills externally at the end of Year 11.

We use ‘AQA GCSE Chinese Textbook 1&2 and Workbook 1&2 to support pupils in class and at home; the workbook is also accompanied by an on-line learning support)

In Years 12 and 13 (Cambridge Pre-U Mandarin Chinese)

This course is specifically designed to meet the needs of foreign language learners study Mandarin at an advanced level. As well as allowing learners to develop their language skills, the syllabus fosters an awareness of Chinese culture, history and economy.

In Year 12, language is studied through various topic areas from family, young people to education, and in Year 13 we will have the opportunity to study a mix of Chinese literature, film, history and economy alongside the other topic areas such as media, work and leisure as well as equality of opportunities.

Students have 6 lessons per week and are expected to follow up this work with private study of at least an equivalent time.

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

An important part of learning a language is being exposed to the culture and people of the country. At Westholme we endeavour to give pupils the opportunity to improve their language skills and experience in Chinese culture, below is a sample of activities available:
• Year 7 & 8 Mandarin club
• Week-long Chinese New Year Celebrations, including Chinese cooking class, Chinese crafts club and a lavish banquet in a Chinese restaurant
• Using Chinese social media – WeChat to enhance the learning experience
• Learning Chinese chess, Chinese calligraphy and brush painting, table tennis and jianzi (keepy uppy) and other traditional activities.
• Participation in the National Chinese Speaking Competition organised by the British Council and sponsored by HSBC, with a trip to China for the winning pupils.
• Bi-annual China Trip. We have had two very successful trips to Beijing and Shanghai in 2016 & 2018.

Useful apps & websites for Mandarin learning:

• Quizlet / Anki (vocab learning tool)
• Thechairmansbao (1st online interactive Chinese newspaper)
• Memrise
• Skritter / Zizzle (Chinese character writing tool)
• Chinese Skill / HelloChinese (gamified learning – all skills)
• Learn Chinese everyday with ShaoLan (podcast)
• Chinese pod
• BBC Bitesize Learning Zone